Metoder til den børnefaglige undersøgelse: i et komparativt perspektiv

Publikation: Ph.d. afhandling/ kandidat/ diplomPh.d. afhandlingForskningpeer review


This PhD thesis centers at the methodologically framework for working with
vulnerable children, young people and their families. The thesis takes a comparative perspective and focuses on how the social workers experience three particular methods for the risk assessment of vulnerable children and families: Integrated Children’s System (ICS), Signs of Safety (SoS) and a Municipality Model (MM).
The comparison depart from six different municipalities in which two are using
ICS, one is using SoS and three municipalities are using MM. The empirical
strategy is a mixed methods study with a sequential research design, with data
collection in three phases. The three phases consist of an interview phase in which I first interviewed 10 heads of departments in the six municipalities. Hereafter, I carried out an Internet based survey with answers from 38 social workers informing about one of their existing risk assessments. Finally, the third phase consisted of qualitative interviews of 11 social workers, which all had answered the survey in the second phase. In this way the each data collections step carries on information to the subsequent steps.
The PhD thesis is submitted as four self-contained articles, which are introduced in a common framework. The four articles have separate research questions, separate analysis and separate conclusions. All the articles have been submitted to peerreviewed journals. The framework unifies the four articles, and draws up the research field, clarifies the methodology and discusses the results from the articles in a Street-level perspective.
The first article investigates whether the forms, integrated in the specific assessment models, provide support in the daily practice in the social workers’ experience. This article uses qualitative data and in a street-level perspective discusses whether the social workers profit from guidelines when carrying out the risk assessment. I find that while social workers express a demand for such guidelines, those already connected to the ICS and SoS forms do not provide the needed support. In the social workers experiences the forms are inflexible and many of the categories are difficult to operationalize. These fixed categories take up a lot of space in the forms and some social workers find that the big picture of the risk assessment vanishes.
The second article presents a comparative analysis and discussion of differences
and similarities in the three methods. Attention is given to which risk- and
protective factors the social worker give most weight in their assessments of
families at risk and whether the different methods ensure a holistic assessment as required by Danish law. The study is based on quantitative data and contributes to the discussion, from a social workers perspective, about the usage of risk assessment methods and whether these newer methods have made a difference in what is assessed. The article shows that different patterns occur depending on which method the social workers are using. For instance, social workers using SoS weight twice as many protective factors compared to social workers using ICS and MM. Furthermore, when investigating the weighting of protective factors the study shows that the social workers using ICS and SoS are more oriented towards factors regarding the child. Finally, neither ICS onr SoS are ensuring a holistic approach.
The third article addresses participation of children, parents and network in the risk assessment process from a social workers perspective. Based on both qualitative and quantitative data, the study shows that across the three different methods 92 % of the children participate in the risk assessment. When investigating how the children are involved, the study shows that children assessed by social workers using SoS only participate in one meeting whereas children assessed by ICS or MM more often participate in several meetings. In addition the study shows that fathers are much more involved compared to earlier findings in the literature. This is consistent across all the three methods. When drawing attention to the participation of families’ networks the study shows conflicting evidence in the qualitative and quantitative data. In spite of the social workers experience that the newer methods provide focus to the network, the quantitative data do not support this. Based on these different findings this article addresses whether these new methods contribute to participation of children, parents and network or whether these methods have the opposite effect.
The last article discusses sharing of knowledge in preparation for professional
development of the social workers. Again this article has a social worker’s
perspective. The article is based on qualitative data and discusses the issue based on how the different municipalities have structured the knowledge sharing in regard to making the risk assessment. The article points out that the knowledge sharing is structured very different in the different municipalities. The study shows that the formal as well as the informal ways of professional discussions are challenged. In spite of the fact that many municipalities do have joint discussions this rarely takes place. Instead the social workers make their risk assessment alone – yet in some cases the social workers do have a discussion with a colleague in the doorway.
Overall, the thesis answers the following research question: What difference do the different types of risk assessment methods make in terms of the risk
assessment form a social worker perspective?
The overall findings indicate that there are important differences across the three
risk assessment methods. These differences are particularly clear when
investigating whether the methods are supportive in the daily practice of social work. Especially the new methods are viewed as being inflexible and some of the
terms in the forms are perceived differently depending of the social worker. My
results also show differences between the methods when looking at what factors the social workers are weighting. On one hand, SoS is more resource-oriented
compared to the other two methods. On the other hand, children are more involved in the process of the risk assessment when using ICS or MM. The results show that social workers using SoS usually only have one meeting with the children, where the children have several meetings using the other two methods. Finally, none of the methods support sharing of knowledge between the social workers.
Based on the above, this PhD thesis engages in the field of social work focusing on casework with vulnerable children and families.
KvalifikationDoktor i filosofi
  • Kildedal, Karin, Vejleder, Ekstern person
  • Skytte, Marianne, Vejleder, Ekstern person
  • Lausten, Mette, Vejleder, Ekstern person
ISBN'er, elektronisk2246-1256, 978-87-7112-768-3
StatusUdgivet - 2016
Udgivet eksterntJa


  • Socialt arbejde og sociale forhold